AVP cancels rest of beach volleyball season

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. The season is being cut short due to budget restraints. The AVP has been struggling financially for some time, and now they've run out of funds.

The shutdown of the AVP tour has put the /*Manhattan Beach*/ Open in jeopardy. Fortunately, the city of Manhattan Beach has provided aid, so the legendary tournament can go on. However, tournaments in Chicago, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Hermosa Beach are affected.

The AVP Tour has groomed many of the country's top volleyball players. The AVP put out the word on Friday that it is closing its doors. For months, the tour searched for investors after the loss of some of its sponsors, but tour officials said they weren't able to secure the funds they needed.

The tournament has featured some of the world's best volleyball. Players from the AVP have won at least one gold medal in every /*Olympic*/ since beach volleyball became part of the games in 1996.

There is concern that the AVP's collapse will make it more difficult for players to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London. However, USA Volleyball officials said the athletes may be able to use international and domestic tournaments to qualify.

The Manhattan Beach Open, widely considered the crown jewel of tournaments, will begin Aug. 19. It is being sponsored by the city and the California Beach Volleyball Association.

"It's in its 50th anniversary this year, and I know the city doesn't want to let that slide," said J. Parker Saikley of the California Beach Volleyball Association. "My father ran the tournament for 20 years prior to the AVP. It's dear to my heart and I don't want to let it slide either."

Saikley's father, Charlie Saikley, died about a year ago, and a plaque is dedicated in his honor on the Manhattan Beach Pier.

Volleyball fans are hoping that the AVP will be able to find some sponsors and get back in business by 2011.

AP contributed to this report.

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